Jacqueline Matte’s book They Say the Wind Is Red, after multiple printings, remains the definitive history of the Southwest Alabama Choctaw Indians, who managed to stay behind when their tribe was relocated in the 1830s. For the next 200 years, they resisted the efforts of unscrupulous government agents who tried to steal their land and resources, and always maintained their Indian communities even when government census takers listed them as black or mulatto. A moving saga, They Say the Wind Is Red chronicles a history of pride, endurance, and persistence, in the face of the abhorrent conditions imposed upon the Choctaw by the U.S. government.
Matte, an author and historian, testified as an expert witness before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearings for federal recognition of the Alabama Choctaw. Matte still remains active with the tribe, including attending the MOWA Choctaw Indians Annual Pow-Wow, held each year in October, “like a homecoming,” Matte says. She describes that “the ceremony begins with a prayer, veterans of all wars lead the way carrying the American flag. The Pledge of Allegiance to the USA is cited by all and then everyone who wants to participates in the opening ceremony by walking around the pow-wow grounds in their regalia — then the competitive dances begin. Each dance has a name — the women dance, the men dance and children dance, to the beat of the drums. It is a spectacular sight.” Matte sent these pictures from the event:
Matte also sent a picture from her recent visit with students from Calcedeaver Elementary School; most of the Calcedeaver students are from the MOWA Choctaw Indian tribe. Matte says, “All the students were brought in and seated on the floor. I told them about the stories their grandparents had told me. They asked me questions, which determined which aspect of their history I talked about. I loved it.”
For more information on a program with Jacqueline Matte for your school or organization, contact NewSouth Books at 334-834-3556.
They Say the Wind Is Red is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.